Dr. Dindot Working With Students on Autism Research
Posted July 09, 2015
Through their own initiative,
both Dylan Ritter—a sophomore at the University of Mississippi—and
Kathleen Nelson—a high school senior from Illinois—discovered Dr.
Scott Dindot’s genomics lab. While their friends took off for
vacation and summer fun, they chose to come to Texas A&M
University to work on autism research with Dindot in the College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Their passion is to
advance the knowledge of autistic disorders so that others may
benefit in the future.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), 1 in 68 individuals have a diagnosis of autism spectrum
disorder. Most children are diagnosed when they see a physician.
Typically they miss their developmental milestones, but often their
parents and other caregivers notice social deficits. Since autism
is a spectrum disorder, it varies considerably from individual to
individual, but primary signals include social communication
deficits, learning disability, and repetitive behaviors.
Ritter and Nelson are interested in autism research because
Ritter’s younger brother has Chromosome 15q Duplication syndrome
(Dup15q) and Nelson’s older brother has Angelman syndrome, both
forms of autism and intellectual disability. Recognizing that both
of these young students are exceptional and possess a drive for
advancing research in the disorders that have affected their
families, Dindot welcomed them into his lab. He was impressed by
the drive that brought both students to College Station—away from
friends, family, and everyone they know—to help others who have
experienced a similar diagnosis.
“Dylan could be doing anything,” Dindot said, “but he’s here. He
was awarded a grant from the Autism Science Foundation that
supports undergraduate student research. This is an extremely
prestigious award, and students from all around the country compete
for these funds. The other recipients this year are from Stanford,
Yale, and the University of California Santa Barbara. These
students are the cream of the crop. This is a national competition.
It’s a very competitive, very prestigious award. It’s a credit to
Dylan’s drive that he received the grant.”
Ritter – a sophomore at the University of Mississippi - has no
connection to Dindot other than the fact that he saw a press
release about Dindot’s lab developing a Dup15q mouse model.
He contacted Dindot saying that his brother had Dup15q syndrome,
and that he wanted to come help and be involved in the research
however he could.
“Both of these students are very similar in terms of the
emotional connection to this work,” Dindot said. “It's a very
personal, extremely important topic. They've chosen to pursue this
with that in mind. They could be doing anything during their summer
break, but they are here at A&M researching the conditions that
affect their siblings. I can’t think of anything more
commendable or inspirational.”
Contact Information: Megan Palsa,
firstname.lastname@example.org, 979-862-4216, 979-421-3121 (cell)
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